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United States grants asylum to a woman from Togo

The United States has granted asylum to a woman from Togo who said she fled her country for fear of being subjected to genital mutilation. The ruling, by the Board of Immigration Appeals, in favour of 19-year-old Fauziya Kazinga, sets an important precedent.

It is the first case in which fear of mutilation, as opposed to the direct threat of it, has been held as sufficient reason for granting asylum and is binding upon the 179 immigration judges, who may now have to deal with a flood of similar applications. The ruling deemed the practice a "persecution". Ms Kazinga's case aroused extra controversy because of her treatment. On arrival in the US, she was held in prison for more than a year, and treated as a convicted felon. Rupert Cornwell, Washington